What's in a Gael?

Jamie Wright is one of 18 varsity athletes from Kingston.
Jamie Wright is one of 18 varsity athletes from Kingston.

Many people think of Queen’s students as just a bunch of kids from Toronto.

But when it comes to the Gaels varsity teams, there’s more diversity than some would think, though they do feature a large number of athletes from Ontario’s capital.

With data compiled by The Journal, Toronto comes in as the most common home town with 24 of 202 men’s varsity athletes and 8 of 115 for female players.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Canada’s largest city has the highest recruitment, with an overwhelming majority of student-athletes hailing from Ontario. 

72 per cent of Gaels are recruited in-province, with British Columbia coming in second with 12 per cent of the athletes.

A major reason for this comes with the funding of sports in these two provinces, as Ontario and British Columbia annually invest the most amount of money into amateur athletics.

Queen’s is also well aware of the talent close to home, as 21 varsity athletes are from the Kingston-Gananoque area. 

With a growing international reputation, the Gaels have also branched out and recruited athletes from across the globe. Both Franzi Wihelm and Christiane Vinck from the women’s volleyball team grew up in Germany, while men’s volleyball libero Ivo Dramov hails from Bulgaria. 

A heat map showing the concentration of Gael athletes Canadian hometowns. (By Kayla Thomson)

Roman Christoforou worked on his craft of futbol in Barcelona just miles from Lionel Messi before coming to play for the men’s soccer team. On the men’s rugby team,  Christian Futschik is from one of the more obscure places for the Gaels, growing up in Dubai, while teammate Alex Colborne began playing in Bristol, England.

Though many teams are led by veteran athletes, Queen’s is dominated by young talent. 121 of the Gaels are in first year, (79 men’s, 42 women’s) making the overall year successful for varsity sports even more spectacular. 

Women’s rugby — with 14 of 34 athletes in their first year — had their most successful season in team history, coming second at the National Championships.

Meanwhile, eight male athletes returned for a fifth year of play, while nine women did the same.

Men’s soccer midfielder Briam Jimenez-Lopez makes him the shortest male athlete at just 5’6”, while women’s rugby hooker Pippi McKay is the female counterpart at 5’1”, though she landed a spot on the OUA All-Star team in her first year.

And while Niki Slikboer’s 6’3” presence on the women’s volleyball court makes her the tallest Queen’s athlete of her gender, she’ll find herself overshadowed by a trio of 6’11” male athletes: Will Hoey (volleyball), Mike Shoveller (basketball), and Nick Romanchuk (football).

Data compiled from GoGaelsGo.com from the basketball, football, hockey, rugby, soccer and volleyball teams. 

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